E.R. Pulgar is a music, film, and visual arts writer for Popdust. He currently attends New York University, where he majors in word, image, and performance curation. Catch him reading Virginia Woolf at a dive bar or writing reviews in a tattered notebook.
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MUSIC | Get to know the next big Americana indie rockers
What exactly does the word "Americana" conjure?
Think fireworks, apple pie, the Fourth of July, our verdant state parks, any Lana Del Rey music video. The word "Americana" invokes the stereotypical positive images of America; when we throw the term around to describe a style of music, usually one thinks of jangly guitar played on a porch in the middle of the forest somewhere. When it comes to Front Porch Lights of Cleveland, Ohio, this could not be further from the truth.
The refined indie rock that this five-piece group––comprised of Sean Keating, John Doyle, Conor Standish, Dillon Devito, and Joey David––brings to mind the classic American dive bar, and the very American experience of a rock show. In the current political climate, any tributes to America are met with a kind of apprehension (for very good reason), but this band is here to remind us that––even amidst the darkness, the fake news, and the impending bombings––there's still an America to be proud of.
We spoke to frontman Conor Standish about getting the band together, their vision of America, the Ohio rock scene, and their new EP Go On Ahead.
Courtesy of Grandstand Media & Management
MUSIC | The frontman of indie pop's most orchestral group opens up
When you think of a Brooklyn band, large orchestral sounds aren't exactly the first thing that comes to mind.
Far from the mold of the indie rock bands that are thriving in the borough, Brooklyn's own San Fermin is a genre-defying, ever-evolving troupe.The chamber pop band––as of now comprised of lead vocalists Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate, trumpet player John Brandon, saxophonist Stephen Chen, violinist Rebekah Durham, drummer Michael Hanf, and guitarists Tyler McDiarmid and Aki Ishiguro and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone––is known for their enormous, emotive sound, one they've been honing since their first record.
Their latest release, Belong, is perhaps their most cohesive, using the sounds of their sometimes cacophonous debut record and fine-tuning them into an all-encompassing barrage. The band continues to stick to their guns, and to the creation of the powerful walls of sound that they have become known for. With their specific blend of indie rock and classical influences, bolstered forward by powerful lyricism, this group has made a name for themselves––and has stood far apart from your cookie-cutter "Brooklyn band." The band is set to play Lollapalooza tomorrow.
We spoke to Ludwig-Leone about the band's growth, the new record's sense of belonging, and what's next.
EXCLUSIVE | America's new witchy sisters take on Trump with a mystical message
Imagine if HAIM carried around a large leather grimoire.
That's certainly the case for witchy sisters Monika and Karen Walker of The New Tarot. The relatively new band––helmed by the sisters, who play keys and sing alongside band members bassist Dave Kahn, guitarist Elizabeth Callen, drummer Chas Langston, and trombone player David Banker––has been honing their specific brand of "post-genre indie alternative" music since forming back in 2014. It's been a long road for the pair since that fateful decision to make music together: since growing into a full-fledged band, they've released an electrifying EP called God of Science. With a sound that veers between the angst of Alanis Morissette and the familial tenderness and chemistry of HAIM, these sisters are carving out their own path as the next sister act to take on the music world.
The band has never shied away from large topics or bold statements despite just starting out: the cover art for God of Science, which features the face of Jesus over Stephen Hawkins body, explores the in-betweens of scene, religion, and the current struggle. As they exalt the "god of science," they criticize those who've made money their God, and lift up those who aren't as fortunate. The emotions at the core of the EP are exactly what The New Tarot is about: a warm, mystical, affectionate kind of hope. Despite this, their critiques never lose their harshness; they've grown quite a bit since the shy, thumping introduction to the world that was their Stella! EP. Instead of growing reserved, they've continued to branch out, exploring their deepest concerns in the tumultuous world they inhabit.
As the band has continued to grow, their social critiques have only grown more elegant and pointed.Their most recent single, "America," serves as a combination of the mystic and the political, an honest and raw comfort amidst the current political climate. The sisters and their band, a veritable family, are here to provide comfort and a little bit of mysticism into a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless in the current climate. In an America where we don't know who to trust, where the president ignores any kind of diversity in religion or thought, it takes a new kind of American to charge everyone with magic and hope. With a full-length on the way, we have no doubt they'll continue to explore the mystic in the actual world through their music.
Watch The New Tarot perform "Reign' & "Alaska" below:
Fresh off a successful show at Brooklyn's own Paperbox and getting ready to begin a weekly residency at the Bowery Electric in October, the sisters who make up the vibrant face of The New Tarot came to the Popdust offices to play an exclusive set that includes new single "America" and talk about their influences, their interests in magic, and the looming question of America's future. I also got the honor of writing a haiku into their leather-bound tome, inspired by their set and by the awe-inspiring aura that they exude. As the year boils down, this is without a doubt the band to watch in 2018.
Listen to The New Tarot on Spotify:
Follow The New Tarot on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
MUSIC | The trip-hop queen of Southern France opens up about coming across the pond
There's something incredibly haunting about Fishbach.
The French indie darling's lead single, the spacey "Invisible Désintegration De L'Univers" which translates to "invisible disintegration of the universe," was a quiet introduction for U.S. audiences. Compared to livelier tracks on the record like bass-driven "Night Bird (Petit monstre)", one would wonder why she chose this as her opener. Spend some time with the contemplative songstress, and the answer immediately becomes clear.
Fishbach's sensibility, a subtle combination of Patti Smith and Lorde, gives way to a mysterious figure that's as personable as she is distant. Her music conveys those same feelings of pain, conveyed in her idiosyncratic, trip-hop style. We caught up at the Bed-Stuy brownstone she rented during her stay in New York, the first time she's toured the U.S. as a performer. The summer heat radiating in, cigarettes lit and questions sweltering under the heat, we talked about about Un autre que moi, touring the U.S. for the first time, and her wide-ranging inspirations.
Mélanie Bordas Aubiès
MUSIC | Julia Kwamya on creating dream-like disco and eclectic inspiration
The first time I saw GERMANS, she was opening for another band that was just as obscure.
The Radio Dept. have accrued a cult following among indie fans (and probably anyone who has seen Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette at least once). As we waited for the band to take the stage, their opening act was absolutely enthralling. Truly, I had never seen a rookie singer sway onstage quite like GERMANS. Julia Kwamya's particular brand of dream pop, alongside the indie and disco influences she brings to the table, made her more than a match for The Radio Dept.'s presence.
Shining with sheer confidence, listen to her and you're teleported to worlds tinged with 80s synths, with bossanova, and with just a dash of classic diva all wrapped up in a down-to-earth package that's simultaneously otherworldly. With a new track due out in September, keep your eyes peeled for the next big Brooklyn musician.
We sat down with Kwamya to talk about opening for The Radio Dept., her unique approach to music, and her force of an artist's name.
Courtesy of GERMANS
MUSIC | The Swedish pop duo talk fashion, feminism, and their new single
After all this time, we still love it.
It's been a long road for Icona Pop. After becoming queens of the 2012 pop scene with the fizzy feminist anthem "I Love It," new music has been slow to come. Focusing on touring the world, Aino Jano and Caroline Hjelt returned to their native Sweden to record music for the new record. After all this time, the pair is now ready to be known by something other than the single that put them on the map.
That isn't to say that they've sacrificed any of their sass or style: Icona Pop's first single "Girls Girls", a wavey summer jam co-written by Tove Lo, still has the danceable beats that made Icona Pop so much fun to listen while moving them in a new direction. The lyric video, which compiles pictures of Icona Pop fans from around the world, also shows us the band's head is in the right place: were it not for their fans, what band could possibly do what they do?
We caught up with the dynamic duo to talk about their upcoming European tour, reconciling a love of vintage shops with haute couture, and their new single "Girls Girls."
via Instagram @iconapop